Katherine Docampo, SVP of Leadership and Impact Communications at Weber Shandwick

The World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting is returning to Davos, Switzerland along with thousands of leaders from government, business, and civil society to discuss the most pressing geopolitical, environmental and societal issues facing us today. Despite the annual gathering catching criticism in recent years for being considered elitist and lacking legitimacy, the Forum is back —- with a different focus. 

Davos is no longer a place for companies to amplify their tightly-controlled narratives, they must rethink their strategies for engaging at Davos and addressing global issues. Besides a wardrobe fit for a week in the Alps, you should also pack humility and the ability to adapt your communication strategy to prioritize collaboration and coalition-building. Leaders need to approach this year’s Forum with an open mind, desire to work together, and a New Davos Playbook. 

The New Davos Playbook for a Post-Trust Era 

  • Avoid the impact trap: How and when you communicate your organization’s impact is just as important as what you communicate, since media and consumers are ready to pounce at the slightest indication of “greenwashing” “bluewashing”, “pinkwashing” or “rainbow-washing.” 
  • Ensure you have fully framed a problem before offering solutions: use design thinking techniques, including asking the right questions, to re-interpret the problem statement if need be.
  • Practice true stakeholder engagement: bring back meaning to this buzz phrase by fully mapping out the actors in your value chain and creating the right channels to engage them in two-way conversations. Listen to, learn from, and engage with stakeholders. 
  • Build coalitions: admitting you don’t have all the power to tackle deep issues isn’t being humble, it’s being realistic. Use the power of your platform to connect dots and build coalitions, including with competitors, to mobilise resources and enact systems-wide change in the longer-term.
  • Cede the floor to those who are normally underrepresented: when showing up at global events, strive to be the moderator or convener who enables others to articulate their views, as opposed to expecting to be the featured speaker on centre stage.
  • Don’t forget to take notes. There will be many big moments covered by the media, but the small moments that stick with you can be leveraged to create lasting external communications opportunities for months to come.

It’s imperative for your organization — and the world — that Davos attendees make the most of being in the company of prominent political, business, societal and academic leaders. If everyone shows up ready to listen, learn, & adapt their strategies, we can bring credibility back to the WEF and change the world for the better. 

Join us at Davos: Wednesday, January 17 at 6:30 p.m. RSVP
Want to refresh your memory, or share it with your team? You can access the session recording here. (log in required).

If you missed part of the session or had further questions, Katherine is happy to connect via her email | kdocampo@webershandwick.com.

Katherine Docampo is the former Head of Impact Communications at the WEF and current SVP of Leadership and Impact Communications at Weber Shandwick.